There are a whole swath of books out there that talk about books – books ON books – it’s a shelf on goodreads and in many bookshops. I love books on books and I’m hoping to dive into Barry Jones’ latest effort, The Shock of Recognition, sooner rather than later.
There is another categoryabout books like Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
But this particular post is about Books IN Books.
My reading over the past couple of months have had an inordinate amount of books being referenced within another book.
Books IN books is a completely different creature to books ON books.
Books ON books covers two types of stories. It can be a book that pays homage to another book (The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield as a love letter to Jane Eyre) or it can be a memoir about someone’s experiences with a range of books and reading (The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe).
Books IN books however, refers to the casual mention of another book that the main character of the book you are currently reading is reading.
The book can be significant in giving you a clue about the characters personality, interests or even a hint to plot development within the book you’re reading. But you can read the book in your hand without knowing anything about the other book. It won’t affect your enjoyment of the story.
But if you have read the book being referenced, you may gain a little added pleasure and/or knowledge. It can add another layer of meaning to the story in front of you.
In recent months I have discovered:
I read Mila 18 during my teens (during my Leon Uris phase!) – Magda also read it in her teens and found it confronting in light of her fathers war history. Because I had also read the book, I understood exactly what she meant and how it must have affected her.
I’m not sure if I will ever be able to cope with the overt Christian content of Pilgrim’s Progress, but Alcott gives us plenty of detail about the book as the story goes along, so I feel like I know as much as I need.
But I haven’t read either Ivan Illyich and Bonjour Tristesse. And I’m dead keen to.
I read Crossing to Safety thanks to Charlotte Wood’s rave review and referencing of it in her book about cooking and eating. (I started reading Love and Hunger about four years ago, then it got ‘lost’ in my kitchen. I found it again during our move last year & I finally finished it during my summer hols – which is why it still counts as a recent read :-).
Have you read any of these books?
And have you come across books in books that you’ve felt compelled to read simply because your favourite character read it?